PASCO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — A trinity teen is battling a severe heart condition. It’s called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a disease caused when the heart muscle becomes thickened, making it difficult for the heart to pump blood.
HCM can cause sudden cardiac arrest in children and teens and it can be deadly if undetected.
It’s a silent disease often with few symptoms if any.
“With his condition as severe as it is, he could have been a statistic if it had gone undetected and for really as bad as it was we were told that he should’ve been a statistic,” said Jillian Michaels, Gavin’s mother. “It was a miracle that he was still alive.”
At the age of 11, Gavin was on a competitive soccer team.
“I played goalkeeper in soccer,” Gavin said.
He had a heart murmur since he was little so his grandmother took him to the doctors where they performed an EKG.
“We had to change our lives in one day,” Michaels said.
Gavin was diagnosed with HCM.
“It was severe enough that we needed to protect him,” said Dr. Kelvin Lau, pediatric cardiologist at Pediatrix Cardiology Associates. “Withdrawing him from competitive soccer and implanting a defibrillator.”
Dr. Lau said the defibrillator monitors Gavin’s heart rhythm. It can deliver electric shocks when needed to control his irregular heart rhythms.
“We do not expect kids to have heart problems, especially seemingly healthy kids, however kids and adolescents do get affected and when they do the first symptom could be quite lethal,” Dr. Lau said.
Gavin, who is now 14, has had to give up soccer.
“I was at a loss for words when I walked in and saw the setup,” Gavin said. “It’s something that I wanted for a while it was good to have a dream come true.”
Make-A-Wish Southern Florida recently surprised Gavin with a gaming room. He’s also got to race Jordan Taylor. Taylor is a race car driver for Corvette who also gave Gavin his racing suit.
Gavin’s message; “if they’re doing sports or something to be aware, if they feel something, to go do something about it.
Gavin’s mother believes it should be a necessity to get EKGs on sports physicals for young students.
Michaels said her son’s heart wall is 45 millimeters thick, while the typical is 12. Doctor Lau said regular screenings, including EKGs, for children are essential, especially those in sports.
HCM is not curable, but it can be treated and maintained with medication — which Gavin is currently on. He’s also had three surgeries with more expected in the future.